It’s a diplomatic and trade war that has seen the UAE kick Canadian soldiers out of their base near Dubai over Canada’s refusal to grant increased landing rights for flights in and out of Canada. Air Canada, convinced Ottawa that Emirates represents a mortal threat to many of its European routes—particularly from secondary Canadian cities like Ottawa, Halifax and Edmonton, which are padded with passengers who are trying to get to, say, India, but must first fly Air Canada to Frankfurt before connecting on Lufthansa, a Star Alliance partner. “What you would end up having is one or two fewer flights to London or Frankfurt out of Toronto, and no flights to Europe out of Halifax, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary,” said an industry insider familiar with Air Canada’s network. Of course, that assumes people in most of those cities would prefer to fly to Toronto to catch a flight on Emirates to Dubai, and then connect a third time to their final destination, as opposed to just making one connection onto Air Canada’s partners in London or Frankfurt.
The war heated up when the UAE announced Canadians seeking to travel to Dubai or Abu Dhabi would require a travel visa. Canada had been one of more than 30 countries whose citizens could travel to the U.A.E. on a free one-month visa. Under a new fee structure, Canadian travellers will pay $250 for a 30-day visa, $500 for a three-month visa and $1,000 for a six-month, multiple-entry visa, maximum stay in UAE 14 days each visit.According to the UAE Embassy in Ottawa, Canadian citizens who plan to travel to the UAE for tourism or business should arrange their visas through an airline, travel agency or hotel in the UAE.Emirates and Etihad Airways, the only two airlines authorised to issue visas to Canadians, are offering the application process online. The foreign affairs office in Ottawa said those flying with other airlines who are not staying in a hotel must have a sponsor - friend, family or business contact - obtain a visa for them from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Canada, has proved to be a tough nut for Emirates to crack. The airline is currently permitted just three flights a week to Toronto. And despite more than five years of heavy lobbying that won support from consumer groups and even Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, Transport Canada has consistently rebuffed requests to give Emirates permission to offer four more flights a week to Toronto and launch daily flights to Calgary and Vancouver. “We feel the rights under the current agreement meet the current demand,” says a Transport spokesperson. A spokesman for the Transport Minister said Ottawa would monitor air travel between the two countries and make changes as warranted. According to a senior government source, the Harper government tried to have “genuine and earnest negotiations” with the UAE on allowing more flights from the Gulf state to land in Canada but the UAE was only interested in one Thing -- unlimited non-stop flights to and from Toronto.
Canadian Airline Blog
Thu, Dec 30 2010 9:30 PM
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